The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 set out a legislative framework for selecting and establishing the national radioactive waste management facility.
Australia stores radioactive waste in many locations around the country, including hospitals, science facilities and universities. The vast majority of Australia’s radioactive waste is from nuclear medicine.
As a responsible nuclear steward, Australia is responsible for safely managing all the waste it creates. This means we need to manage nuclear facilities and technologies, including their waste, safely and sustainably.
The government has been working to build a single, purpose-built facility to permanently dispose of low-level radioactive waste and temporarily store intermediate-level radioactive waste.
The site selection process for the facility over 7 years included:
- voluntary nomination
- public and community consultation
- technical assessments.
More than 40 sites across Australia were volunteered.
In November 2021, the former Minister for Resources and Water declared the property at Napandee, near the town of Kimba, in South Australia, as the proposed site for the facility.
The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation, representing the traditional landowners, challenged the declaration in Federal Court. They were exercising their right to seek judicial review of the declaration under the Act.
On 18 July 2023, Justice Charlesworth of the Federal Court set aside the declaration.
On 10 August 2023, the Minister for Resources stated that the government does not intend to pursue Napandee as a potential site for the facility. Nor is the government intending to pursue the previously shortlisted Lyndhurst and Wallerberdina sites.
The site is currently being supervised to ensure it remains safe and cultural heritage is protected. Any activities that have already been conducted were non-permanent and will be reversed or remediated.
The government intends to honour existing contracts for Community Benefit Program round 3 grants, which fund Kimba community projects that increase social cohesion and economic diversity.
The Australian Radioactive Waste Agency has started work on alternative proposals for the storage and disposal of the Commonwealth’s civilian low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste.